Magazines Admit: We Have No #*&%ing Clue What To Do With iPad

While many media outlets were heralding today’s news that magazine giant Condé Nast plans to bring five of its biggest selling titles to Apple’s new iPad tablet thingy, if you actually read what the Condé memo says, it becomes apparent that they really have no idea what they’re dealing with.

Condé editorial director Thomas J. Wallace admits, “We need to know a little bit more about what kind of a product we can make, how consumers will respond to it, what the distribution system will be.”

So they don’t know what they’re selling, how it’s going to be sold or if anyone’s going to buy it?

Condé doesn’t even know which demographic to reach out to first, so they’re trying them all, launching with GQ in April, followed in June by Wired and Vanity Fair, with The New Yorker and Glamour to come later in the summer.

“GQ is men. Glamour is women. Vanity Fair is a dual audience. The New Yorker is unique with its periodicity, and therefore it’s also more news- or text-heavy, and it’s a slightly older audience,” explains Wallace.

Lest you think they have even a single base covered, Condé admits they’re still not fixed on what to do about advertising on their iPad mags.

“What we’re looking at right now is what kind of ad units for a phone and iPad would optimize the experience for a consumer,” said Sarah Chubb, president of Condé Nast Digital. “As an example, if you’re a fashion retailer or a fashion advertiser who also has an e-commerce store, how can we make the simple fact that you can click through to an item and buy it kind of great? How do you romance it a little bit more?”

Condé’s cluelessness — and really that of the entire print industry — can be summed up with this statement from Charles Townsend, the company’s CEO: “How large a revenue stream digitized content represents is an answer we hope to learn through this process.”

Granted, with new markets and revenue streams opening every day, there’s always going to be uncertainty. Does Condé’s decision to invest so heavily without a more rigid game plan strike you as hubris or is it the type of daring thinking the economy needs to move forward and out of the recession?

Condé Nast Is Preparing iPad Versions of Some of Its Top Magazines [NY Times]